Posted by: rundadrun | January 27, 2011

5K’s and funerals

How do you remember the good times in someone’s life and not dwell on the bad?  I have been batting that around in my head since we found out about my little brother Jeff dying from alcohol poisoning.  It has been a rough month for our family.  We found out on Christmas Eve that Jeff had passed away 3 days before after finally running out of second chances.  Because of family travel problems and just the drama of life, we didn’t have a memorial for him until almost a month later, last Saturday.  So, I have had lots of time to remember him and think about our childhood.  Lots of pictures, like the one posted here have been a comfort, but until we got together with friends and family, it had not been finalized in my head.

When my big brother Gary called and asked if I would like to run a 5K on the morning of the memorial, I didn’t even think twice.  I know it may seem odd to some, but all I could think of was how healing it would be to run my first race ever with my big brother on the day we remembered the life of our little brother.  It just felt right.

Gary and I both agreed to run our own races and so we went to the start together and met up after the finish.  I decided after seeing the results from last years race that I would try to really run hard and see if I could get an age group award.  Gary also ran hard and we both had great races.  I got 2nd in my age group and Gary shattered his PR.  As we were waiting around for the awards, I thought about all the people there who were running for different reasons, all very important to them as my reason for running.  It wasn’t until after the race that I realized that the last time I had raced in California, I ran my final cross-country race on this very same trail!  At the time of that race, my little brother’s life was still in control.  I am amazed at the small ways God speaks to me sometimes.  🙂

After heading home and showering quickly, we headed out to meet our cousins and friends for Jeff’s memorial lunch.  I saw friends and family I hadn’t seen in almost 30 years.  We all shared our Jeff stories and began the healing process together.  I can’t even begin to thank these wonderful people for being there for us.

But now, life goes on.  Today would have been Jeff’s 42nd birthday.  This is the first birthday in years that I haven’t had to wonder where he is or what he is doing or if he is okay.  Today, he is having the happiest birthday he has ever had.  And I know that he understands why his two big brothers ran a race in his honor, even if some people find it odd.  After all, Jeff knew how odd the Rice brother have always been. 🙂

Happy birthday little brother.  Hope you don’t expect me to run that fast next year. 🙂



  1. Sorry to hear about your brother. Your story is perfect example of turning bad into good— great race & Congrats on award!!!

    • Thanks for the kind comment.

  2. What a wonderful tribute.

  3. Having experienced a family loss this month as well, your post is hitting home. I totally get the 5K race. I’m very sorry about your brother, wishing you hope and healing.


    • I am so sorry for your loss Danielle. God bless and comfort you.

  4. Robert – Don’t know if you remember me – I was Jeff’s age, went to Porterville C of C, and attended camp/youth rallies with both of you. My cousin Stacey was at Jeff’s memorial service. I just wanted to extend my sympathies and sadness at the loss of Jeff. I have fond memories of him from church camp – I have a great picture of us when we were in high school. I’m so sorry for what he and your family had to go through. I’m happy to see that you are doing well in your life. I am in NYC teaching and living a wonderful life. God Bless – Cyndi

    • Yes, Cyndi, I remember you. Thanks for the kind words and the encouragement. I would love to see the pic if you can scan it. Thanks for getting in touch and God bless.

  5. Rob – here is my email address. Drop me a note and I will send you the picture.

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